By V. S. Naipaul
Within the essay, "Prologue to an Autobiography," Naipaul recounts his beginnings as a author and renders a touching portrait of his father. In "The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro," a learn of the Ivory Coast, he delineates sections of the trendy African brain: the Westernized "day" brain and that of the ageless, magic-haunted "night." PW referred to as either narratives "small works of art."
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When he was a young man, during the war, he said, he had made a trip to Venezuela. He had become involved with a local woman. To his great alarm, she had had a child for him. " I didn't know it. Nothing had been said about Bogart's misadventure. Our family kept its secrets well. For some years after that he h�d divided his time be tween Trinidad and Venezuela, freedom and the woman. Fi nally-since there was no job for him in Trinidad-he had settled in Venezuela. He had got a job with an oil company, and there he had stayed.
It was where my mother's family was established. Contract labor was far behind them; they were big landowners. Two years or so after I was born my father left the Guardian, for reasons that were never clear to me. For some Prologue to an Autobiography 21 years he did odd jobs here and there, now attached to my mother's family, now going back to the protection of an uncle by marriage, a rich man, founder and part owner of the biggest bus company in the island. Poor himself, with close relations who were still agricultural laborers, my father dangled all his life in a half-dependence and half-esteem be tween these two powerful families.
Of my father's family and my father's childhood I knew almost nothing. My father's father had died when my father was a baby. My father knew only his mother's stories of this man: a miserly and cruel man who counted every biscuit in the tin, made her walk five miles in the hot sun to save a penny fare, and, days before my father was born, drove her out of the house. My father never for gave his (ather. He forgave him only in a story he wrote, one of his stories of Indian village life, in which his mother's humiliation is made good by the ritual celebration of the birth of her son.